Kurt-Lee Arendse in action for the Bulls. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix
Kurt-Lee Arendse in action for the Bulls. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

Jake White surprises with Kurt-Lee Arendse at No 15 for Bulls v Cheetahs

By Ashfak Mohamed Time of article published Dec 3, 2020

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CAPE TOWN - WOW! Watch out Cheetahs, because an electric storm is heading your way at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

No, it’s not a typical highveld thunderstorm (although that is always possible at this time of the year in the region), but Kurt-Lee Arendse, who has been shifted to fullback by Bulls coach Jake White for the Currie Cup encounter in Pretoria (4.30pm kickoff).

The former Blitzboks sevens star has excelled out wide this season, where his searing pace and devastating sidestep has left defenders sprawled across the turf in every match.

Now he is set to get even more involved from No 15, with regular last-line-of-defence David Kriel moving to right wing in place of Travis Ismaiel as White revamped his team to look at different combinations with a view to testing his depth for next year’s PRO Rugby competition in Europe.

Arendse’s positional shift results in Marco Jansen van Vuren coming in at left wing, while veteran flyhalf Morné Steyn returns to the No 10 jersey ahead of Chris Smith after completing his Covid-19 isolation protocols.

Embrose Papier gets a start as well in the new-look halfback pairing, with the in-form Ivan van Zyl taking a break on the bench.

The Bulls’ nippy No 9 Embrose Papier. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

But there’s no such breather for captain Duane Vermeulen, who is soldiering on at No 8 alongside Arno Botha and Marco van Staden.

White, though, has picked a fresh tight five, with former Cheetahs lock duo Walt Steenkamp and Sintu Manjezi sure to be motivated to put in a special performance, while another former Cheetah in Marcel van der Merwe gets his second start of the season at tighthead prop to give Trevor Nyakane some respite on the bench.

Jacques van Rooyen’s red card against Western Province, for a dangerous tackle on Warrick Gelant, resulted in a one-week suspension, so Gerhard Steenekamp receives a long-awaited start at No 1.

There is still some serious talent on the Bulls bench as well, though. Apart from Springboks such as Nyakane, Van Zyl and Nizaam Carr, young giant prop Jan-Hendrik Wessels is set to be unleashed on his former junior provincial team in the second half.

White has previously stated that the Grey College star reminded him of another ex-Cheetah, Bok legend Os du Randt, and Wessels will be keen to make a big impact when he comes on to the field.

Revenge will be on the Bulls’ minds, though, after going down 19-17 in Bloemfontein in Super Rugby Unlocked.

“The Cheetahs are the only team to have beaten us in the last round, so we are truly looking forward to this one. I’m also excited about the changes we have made to our team, and I’m keen to see our new combinations,” White said.

Meanwhile, the Cheetahs are a much-changed team from that match, having lost several stalwarts to the Bulls and overseas teams.

Former Lions utility forward Victor Sekekete will make his Cheetahs debut at blindside flank, with lock Carl Wegner now the captain following injuries to Junior Pokomela and previously Ruan Pienaar.

Teams For Loftus Versfeld

Bulls: 15 Kurt-Lee Arendse 14 David Kriel 14 Travis Ismaiel 13 Stedman Gans 12 Cornal Hendricks 11 Marco Jansen van Vuren 10 Morné Steyn 9 Embrose Papier 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain) 7 Arno Botha 6 Marco van Staden 5 Walt Steenkamp 4 Sintu Manjezi 3 Marcel van der Merwe 2 Johan Grobbelaar 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.

Bench: 16 Corniel Els 17 Jan-Hendrik Wessels 18 Trevor Nyakane 19 Ruan Nortje 20 Nizaam Carr 21 Ivan van Zyl 22 Chris Smith 23 Marnus Potgieter.

Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies 14 Rhyno Smith 13 Howard Mnisi 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Rosko Specman 10 Tian Schoeman 9 Tian Meyer 8 Jeandré Rudolph 7 Victor Sekekete 6 Andisa Ntsila 5 Carl Wegner (captain) 4 Ian Groenewald 3 Khutha Mchunu 2 Reinach Venter 1 Boan Venter.

Bench: 16 Jacques du Toit 17 Cameron Dawson 18 Erich de Jager 19 Chris Massyn 20 George Cronjé 21 Ruben de Haas 22 Reinhardt Fortuin 23 William Small-Smith.

@ashfakmohamed

@IOLSport

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